The translation in the Authorized Version, following the ancient versions, of a name covering three different countries and peoples, viz.: (1) Ethiopia proper; (2) parts of northern Arabia; and (3) the regions east of Babylonia. See Cush for this name and the problems involved.
The versions, beginning with the Septuagint, did not know any other country than Kûsh (Egyptian, "Ko[']sh"), that is, Nubia south of Egypt. In the Bible "Cush," the son of Ham and brother of Mizraim (Egypt; Gen. x. 6; I Chron. i. 8), evidently means the ancestor of the Nubians. Originally the Egyptians used the name Ko[']sh only of tribes living south of the second cataract, extending it after 1500
The Greeks often included under the term "Ethiopians" (dusky-faced ones) all nations of eastern or central Africa, but designated as Ethiopia proper the Nile valley from Syene (compare Ezek. xxix. 10) to the modern Khartum. The inhabitants of this country were more or less pure negroes. Isa. xviii. 2 (R. V.) calls them "tall and smooth"; but it is very doubtful if that obscure description of a land "rustling with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia" (ib. xviii. 1), could mean Nubia.
Those barbarous tribes were at an early period tributary to the Pharaohs who made the northern part of the country a real Egyptian province after 2000
Under Augustus a violation of the Roman frontier at Syene caused the punitive expedition of Petronius and the destruction of Napata. A few miserable remnants of the kingdom and of ancient Egyptian culture existed in Meroe for a while; the wild tribes of the Nobades and Blemmyans took the place of the Ethiopians, whose language and race are usually assumed to be represented by the modern Nubas.
The Bible, furthermore, mentions Ethiopia as the type of a remote land (Ps. lxviii. 31, lxxxvii. 4; Amos ix. 7; Zeph. ii. 12, iii. 10; Dan. xi. 43). Isa. xliii. 3 seems to imply Ethiopia's wealth, probably in gold, precious stones, etc. (compare Job xxviii. 19, "the topaz of Ethiopia"; Isa. xlv. 14, "the merchandise of Ethiopia"). Ethiopian mercenaries in Egypt are mentioned in Jer. xlvi. 9. See also Cush.